Proper public speaking volume is speaking loud enough for your objective, your material, your purpose and your circumstances.
Without proper public speaking volume your audience will not be able to hear you. Too much will be irritating. There may be circumstances and parts of your speech that are more appropriate to increase your volume. Done effectively, it can enhance your speech. If at the wrong time, it could make the audience uncomfortable.
"I Can’t Hear Yoooou."
Those words of Sergeant Carter on Gomer Pile perhaps bring back memories if your old enough. They are an example of the need for adequate volume.
A soft soothing voice can put some in the audience to sleep. If your urgent message was said too quietly, not everyone will hear clearly. Even more importantly, the audience may not respond. What voice would you use to say, "The building is on fire, starting in the back rows first, we want everyone to leave row by row."
On the other hand, if you said it almost screaming, it might incite panic. Words can have immense power, but good can only come form using them properly.
Have you ever noticed turning on the TV or radio and instantly it was too loud or soft. You adjusted it. Why? Because you wanted it at a level that was comfortable for your purpose, which was to listen.
What is your purpose for your audience? The challenge here is the ability to control the public speaking volume used in the given setting and conditions you have to deal with. This can be done by use of the voice or with a mic or both. If an audience can’t hear and want to, they may not let you know. The goal is to maintain the public speaking volume that the audience needs.
What Public Speaking Volume Needs to Be
First rule, how loud you speak needs to be adequate for the audience you are speaking to. A small room with 20 will require different levels than an audience of 2000 with a microphone.
How can you know if it is suitable? Learn to discern. While you are talking learn to look at the faces and the heads of the audience. Are they tilting their heads so their ears are pointed more toward you the speaker? You need to increase your volume. Are they hard of hearing? Raising your voice and a slight bit more enunciation will be needed.
Watch experienced speakers and how they adjust their public speaking volume to meet the needs of the audience.
The age of you audience will have an effect on how loud you go. Don’t assume because of advanced age, the audience is automatically hard of hearing. The listening style of older ones is no different than those of fewer years. What is different is they tend to react a bit slower.
Microphones make control much easier but do not eliminate the need for the speaker to adjust their volume. More on this at: Use Of microphone.
Think of your volume as being on a continuum of soft to scream. Speechmastery requires you not go to either extreme. It also requires you master everything in between. For our purpose that continuum would start at, "I'm sorry about your loss of your mother." The other end of the spectrum would be, "Get out, the buildings on fire."
Disturbances Requiring Increased Volume
Imagine your listening to the news on radio or TV. What do you do when a transient noise, maybe a train, a loud truck, or people talking, makes it hard to hear. If it is important to you, you turn it up or shut up. The audience needs to hear or you need to wait. If what you're saying is important to your audience, you need to turn up the volume for them when you note such noise making distractions.
Have you noted a common thread in all this and other speech related articles on this site? Everything starts with your audience. They are your first concern with any what, how, why, or when.
What is your purpose?
Plans change and adapt to needs. A purpose remains the same. Always speak on purpose. What is the purpose of your talk? Speaking to stimulate your audience to activity will require greater volume and force than informing of bad news where a softer voice would be used. Be careful here. Do not confuse modulation with volume.
Suppose your talking to a group of management. If you were threat framing, you would talk in a louder voice, closer to the end of the continuum of the ‘building is on fire.’
What if you were changing from a previous stated position of threat framing and now framing an opportunity, speaking with your smiley voice would be more appropriate. Closer on the continuum toward the middle than but not as loud as the threat, "The building is on fire."
What is Your Material?
Like the purpose, the volume also needs to fit the material or more specifically, the parts of the material. If you ever saw the Seinfeld sitcom where the cast talked about all the different talkers, one was the loud talker.
A loud talker tends to grate on the nerves. It can result from the talkers being hard of hearing. It could be the background one has lived in. It could be from working in a noisy environment and is now a habit. You or someone close to you may notice you talk louder when you cannot hear well.
Adjust the public speaking volume throughout the talk. Increase where the material commands it be increased.
Simple Public Speaking Volume Exercises
To learn the dynamics of how it works, try this simple exercise.
Think of how you would say to someone you cared for...
- We're having a baby
- I’m sorry but your mother has died
- Get out, the building is on fire
- Congratulations, You did it, you invented the wijit.
Now think of the different voices and the volume you would use and apply them to the other messages. In the ‘I’m sorry voice’ say ‘Congratulations, you did it...’
‘Get out’ will require a commanding voice. Congratulations would be spoken with a smile.
If you have a soft voice, you can learn to increase the volume. It will take work and practice.
You can master public speaking volume if you learn mastery of your vocal cords, posture, lungs and diaphragm. There is where you will be able to increase the power and thus the volume of your speech.
If you are finding it a challenge, find a speech coach to further help in this regard. Make sure it is someone who has experience in helping with the same challenge you have.
Practice Public Speaking Volume
Now that you have the basics, practice public speaking volume.
Practice it daily.
Take any sentence, even this one, and practice saying it loud, soft, normal and whisper so that it can be understood. By practice, you will increase your skill range and be able to apply this skill to your art.
Doing so you will master public speaking skill and be on your way to Speechmastery.
Pausing Do you know how it enhances your public speaking. Do you know how to master it?
Naturalness is more than natural speaking. Do you know what it is and how to develop this skill?
Enthusiasm and How to Attain It is another related speaker skill.
Do you know what it is and what it is not?